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Comment: Re:Dumb stuff (Score 1) 604

by Half-pint HAL (#49618495) Attached to: My High School CS Homework Is the Centerfold
The point here is that there is a message conveyed. If I look at a nude photograph from an unknown source, I cannot state categorically that was done with intentions that objectify women. But this image is not from an unknown source - it is from a magazine that exists to objectify women and titillate men. When attitudes and intentions are the issue under debate, "ad hominem" is no longer a fallacy.

Comment: Re:Interesting (Score 1) 166

by Half-pint HAL (#49618397) Attached to: Why Scientists Love 'Lord of the Rings'
Most Christians are not true Christians in the view of fundamentalist Christians.
Most Muslims are not true Muslims in the view of fundamentalist Muslims.
Most Jews are not true Jews in the view of fundamentalist Jews.
Most socialists are not true socialists in the view of fundamentalist socialists.
Hell, you could probably even find a cadre of fundamentalist librarians who decry most librarians as meer "library workers" if you look hard enough.

Comment: Re:Tolkien saw realistic trees in his imagination. (Score 1) 166

by Half-pint HAL (#49618381) Attached to: Why Scientists Love 'Lord of the Rings'

You have to train yourself to actually see things. It takes conscious effort at first. Sketching or writing detailed verbal descriptions helps.

Unfortunately, until you HAVE trained yourself to see things, you're blind to the gaps in your perception. It was an eye-opener to me how my perception of bicycles changed once I started cycling seriously and studying components and frame geometry.

Comment: Re:Nonsense (Score 1) 166

by Half-pint HAL (#49618339) Attached to: Why Scientists Love 'Lord of the Rings'

I would imagine more scientists get into comics, with even more detailed and well defined universe, often with rules that are consistent with our own or at least plausibly explained enough to suspend disbelief.

Comics have historically been so poorly consistent internally that fans don't bat an eyelid at the biannual festival of Retconia, when the Mobius Mitten is donned in order to undo Galamuncher's attack on the third planet in the system Sol, incidentally raising some popular characters from the dead.

Comment: Re:Article is total bilge water (Score 1) 166

by Half-pint HAL (#49618293) Attached to: Why Scientists Love 'Lord of the Rings'

Tolkien was a poor second-rate wannabe of HG Wells and Jules Verne, or if you want to go back a few centuries, Johnathan Swift.

Chalk is a second-rate cheese and oranges are rubbish apples. Honestly, Tolkien was working in a completely different genre from all of them. Wells and Verne wrote stories essentially exploring the effects of a single idea, and using them to reflect on society. Swift was a satirist, and everything was a reflection of us. Tolkien, in essence, simply wrote a story. The parallels to ourselves serve to make the story more comprehensible -- signposting, basically.

Comment: Re:You're not willing to pay (Score 1) 285

It's a problem for Mexicans, and the average man on the street in Guadalajara has no more influence on his country's policies than the average Joe in Houston. Trade and business interests lobby to get the right to sell overseas, and argue that this means more tax intake and higher wages, and is therefore "better for the country". Here in the UK, "austerity" measures taken after the financial crash are pushing people deeper into poverty and even to starvation, and yet the government say it's all for the good of everyone.

Comment: Re:You're not willing to pay (Score 2) 285

This is an idea that I'm surprised hasn't gained more traction. Using import tarrifs as a means of protectionism is quite rightly considered bad form internationally. However, using import tarrifs to create a level playing field seems perfectly fair. After all, if companies in your country are mandated by law to pay a minimum wage, paid holidays and parental leave, and are forced to respect workers rights and health and safety, the countries without minimum wages or paid leave and where nobody bats an eyelid when a 10-year-old boy dies in a mineral sand landslip do have something of an immoral competitive advantage.

Thus I would think that the best approach would be to charge import tarrifs from countries without comparable labour laws to your own, calculated on the cost of offering similar protections to those in your country. This would promote domestic production in the short term, and would promote better working practices globally in the long term. Sounds like a win-win, to me, and an easy one for the politicians to sell to the public.

Comment: Re:You're not willing to pay (Score 4, Insightful) 285

Aside from water and air, there is nothing as important to human life as food. Why does worker reward not reflect this?

The price of a commodity has little to do with "importance", but with scarcity and cost of production.

But here we're talking about food for which there is demand and a market, and it's going unpicked due to difficulties in attracting workers. The demand for food has not decreased in recent years, so someone, somewhere, needs that food. And yet it's not "cost-effective" to pick it.

The missing part of this equation is how that "hole" in the supply is fulfilled. And the answer is... cheap imports. Not a problem, you say? It is for the world's poor, because while the global food market means low prices in first world countries, it means high prices in developing countries and leaves people unable to afford to feed their families.

This is where our priorities are messed up. We shrug our shoulders, say "market forces" and let other people shoulder the burden. Just look at the problems that US corn ethanol caused for Mexicans. To people in the States, Mexican maize is cheap, so the ethanol manufacturers snatched it up, leaving the Mexican supply far below demand, pushing prices up and causing widespread hunger.

Don't trust the invisible hand -- everything the hand gives you, it has taken from someone else.

Comment: Re:You're not willing to pay (Score 1) 285

I sometimes get puzzled by people who talk about jobs like this.

If anyone should be paid millions, it is doctors who save your life or teachers who raise your kids.

Well I agree with that. Doctors are well-paid, and deservedly so. Teachers are typically underpaid.

Counter: Healthcare/Education is so important that doctors/teachers should have their salaries controlled to keep the cost of healthcare/education affordable.

That only holds if you believe that healthcare and education are better dealt with as private enterprise than as part of the public sector. I don't.

Comment: Re:arsenic in rice (Score 1) 285

California rice has a lot of arsenic in it. They should just stop for that reason alone.

Wrong state. The arsenic problem is in former cotton fields, where arsenic was used as a pesticide to kill the boll weevil. This was OK for a non-food crop, but not great for food crops, particularly rice, which has a marked tendency to pick up arsenic from the soil wherever it's present.

Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Mother Nature cannot be fooled. -- R.P. Feynman